Artists at a glance
I SEE RIVERS
WOJTEK THE BEAR
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by musician and Fresh On The Net moderator Johnno Casson this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
BLUE-JOHN VS QUIDGYBOPPER – The Man On The Bridge
To be honest I should probably just get my coat as I doubt I can better the band’s biography:
“Like BBC Radio 4’s answer to the Sleaford Mods; a Yazoo for the 21st Century; the Two Ronnies of gothtronica. We grew up on a diet of sherbet dib dabs, against a synthpoppy backdrop”
….but I’ll give it a go.
A male voice opens proceedings with a David Bowie-esque refrain and then either Blue-John or Quidgybopper take us on talking walking tour of a life in a day set to a musical backdrop of marvellous car boot beats & bleeps. There may be a deep deep meaning behind these words, possibly to do with old English magic or some sort, I find it to be totally bonkers, different and ultimately charming.
But wait! Hold the front page! I have just started to make sense of the song after the 7th play, particularly as I noticed that our fellow moderator Ludwig has asked the artist to include the lyrics in the songs description (thanks Ludwig). This is a poetic, deep and thought provoking description of a story of a public suicide attempt.
I don’t know if its the medicine the doctors have given me for a back problem, but I am currently completely out of my nut and am slow, indeed make that very very slow, at grasping the intricacies of the world of the Quidgybopper or the world in general.
But fear not dear reader, before you start wondering who has left this fruitcake in charge of reviewing these tunes, rest assured I have been perfectly drug-free whilst undertaking all the other reviews, and that I love you because of your dogs and your endearing use of Weetabix as a foot pumice in my mothers home.
So now we are all straight I’ll get back to the man on the bridge. This is the finest gothtronica I have ever heard and I deeply encourage you to partake in the aural pleasure it delivers.
ELIOT ASH – The Man Who Lived Life Through a Lens
It’s the hottest bank holiday Monday on record, birds are singing in the trees, kids wearing factor 1000 suncream are playing with hosepipes and water guns in paddling pools and screaming with happy laughter the length and breadth of the nation. Everybody is outside having the best times of their lives, and here I am indoors in thick socks because my feet are cold with not so much as a Long Island Iced Tea to my name.
When I signed up to be a #newmusic champion I knew that days like this would come, it was in the brochure and indeed mentioned on the front page of the guidelines, but stupidly I thought that guidelines would not count on swelteringly hot Bank Holiday Mondays. Having finally been bothered to read the guidelines today it clearly states “If #newmusic artists call upon you to write amazing things about their music you must answer the call, especially so when the general public have gone out of their way to vote for their personal faves on the Listening Post. You must never be tempted to leave the house, you should remain fully dressed in sensible clothing, your hair should be tied back and should not block the view of your computer screen, your workstation should be tidy (oops – don’t tell anyone), your positioning at said workstation should be ergonomically structured (double oops – shhhhh), you should not be tempted to use a laptop and sneak out into the garden, as it clearly states in section 174 – sub section 23 (updated 2017) laptops are now illegal for Fresh On The Net #newmusic writers following the regrettable incident outside the Pussy Parlure stage, Glastonbury 2017”
So, abandoning the idea of alphabetical order here (this is the only review I wrote on Bank Holiday Monday, the others were done last night) and answering the other call of nature to write amazingly wonderful positive #newmusic reviews, I couldn’t ask for a better companion than the music of one Eliot Ash, a London-based singer-songwriter of fine repute.
Eliot’s The Man Who Lived Life Through A Lens pulled in a good many of your finest votes, the song is clean, young and zesty, full of spark, no string vesty. This is spaciously dynamic acoustic indie pop and is taken from his second EP From Madness on MadMan Records.
I noticed our Guvnor Tom R picked it in his top 5 choices on the Listening Post, as did fine moderators Kelly, Jim and Steff, so Eliot is obviously busting the right moves.
Indeed Tom had previously spoke about Eliot’s track It’s The Weekend “It’s a big shame that we would never be allowed to play It’s The Weekend on BBC Radio in its present form, but fair play to Eliot for not playing the corporate game. Anyway the out and out swearing is a big part of what makes the song so liberating. Sleaford Mods built up their credibility and cult following for years by genuinely not giving a fuck about whether anyone played them on the radio.” And I thought he seemed like a nice clean mouthed boy I could introduce to my grandmother!
Anyway, whether being a bit sweary or not, good luck Eliot, it is very hard for artists to get heard nationally and you are already doing that, so salute to you.
ELOÏSE – SUCKERS
Dark poignant lyrics lie behind this modern pop song with shades of Lana Del Ray and Lorde lighting her way.
This could fit into a daytime show on Radio 1 no problem. OK, maybe the bit about killing her might leave the playlist bosses a little worried.
I like the bit about about the male interest in the song “so there you stand, just a man in a cheap tuxedo.” Yep, I’ve seen that one in real life too.
This is very well produced by Lewis Gardiner, and has a really good dynamic shift in its highs and lows, it is well catchy and ultra modern in sound, and for 19 year old Eloïse it’s an amazing track. It’ll be interesting to see where Eloïse goes next as she continues to find her own voice and forge her own path. She has already released four more singles and an EP (Marie Antoinette) and Suckers is her new single on Velvet Something Records.
Sometimes three minutes can change your life, sometimes it can take you a step higher on the ladder, and sometimes it can introduce you to new friends who pass you onto new friends and on it goes. I’m confident Eloïse has lots more wonderful three minutes in her to share with everyone. Good luck.
EMMA MILLER – Wasteland
Oh, how beautiful is this? It’s very high percentage levels of beautiful I tell ya. Emma Miller is from the North East of Scotland and is now making music in London, and this gorgeous track is her latest single.
Some people are good at fixing cars, some at fixing sinks, Emma is good at fixing hearts. She may also be good at fixing cars and sinks, but I was unable to ascertain that from her limited biographical info online.
From sadness comes good, from darkness comes light, from closure comes reinvention. Wasteland takes a melancholy stance and spits beauty all over its shameful clothing. A sad yet uplifting tale of refugees fleeting war and famine with nothing but hope to see them through.
Often the tone of a voice tells me whether you are a winner of hearts, a queen of inner bubbles of loveliness, or indeed a serial killer of good intentions. Emma is very much of the former. The sparse and delightful piano drew my attention and beckoned me over, her unhurried low register threw a warm blanket over my shoulders, and her delivery of the line “so you found love washed up in the sand” bathed me in glorious melodic happiness from head to toe, though I confess it also left pondering the awful truth of refugees having to take their lives in their hands just to be free and safe 🙁 I guess that getting people thinking is the point.
There is a subtle tang of jazz in her voice, enough to interest but not scare the pop lovers, and enough to tell the jazz heads that there is someone of interest arriving stage left.
Emma only released her debut single last year, earning support from BBC 6 Music, and I reckon her parents must have been a big influence of her laid back effortless style, or maybe she has been developing her style in a secret bunker. Whether nurture or nature, we are the lucky recipients. Go and dive into the beautiful sound of Emma Miller.
GARLANDS – Indian Giver
This is Johnno’s neighbour Sylvia here, I’m just having a quick listen whilst he’s straining his greens. Oh bloody hell, another bunch of noisy guitar enthusiasts, there’ll be prancing around my neighbourhood like they own it, who do they think they are? I saw it on the news last night that gangs of guitar enthusiasts were caught roaming the streets of Saffron Walden, dressed in clever worded t-shirts and unnecessary facial hair, a gang of about 12 of them there were, a tight knit group all huddled together half bent over, giving it all those sharp noisy riffs the kids like to play nowadays, and where were the bobbies on the beat when you need them, eh? My friend across the way said she saw them setting a guitar on fire down near the industrial estate – In Broad Daylight It Was!!!
Time was you might see a group of ukulele players hanging round in the park, but they were always such a polite group of youngsters and well turned out, most of them had nice suits on and lovely bow ties, you felt safe, see.
Peggy at number 48 said that the other day she was just getting some milk and a big bar of chocolate at the One Stop Shop and a gang of them jumped out from behind the metal cages at the side of the shop and started thrashing out what they called a Muse riff, prancing about they were, black jeans so tight you could see their breakfast, no shame. Where are the parents, eh? Probably off listening to that Kasabian rubbish I’ve no doubt, oh it’s wicked it is.
Ahem… sorry for that rude interruption.
Garlands are a three-piece from Glasgow. Indian Giver is the lead track from the EP of the same name and is the kind of sharp life affirming alternative garage pop that Scottish bands do so well: catchy as hell, fresh as heck, and likely to leave you with an enormous sense of well being. These boys know what they are doing and have delivered a tight, melodic piece of guitar led loveliness. Much luck Gordon and the gang.
I SEE RIVERS – Give Up
I press play – Ooh hello interesting vocal oh oh OHs, and now minimalist instrumentation, and gorgeous voices come in and fly a little more. No need to rush, there’s time to build the track up and grab the listener by the happy bones. They are doing Annie Lennox and Kate Bush proud as they walk in their footsteps with Give Up.
I See Rivers bandmates Eline Brun, Gøril Nilsen and Lill Scheie are based in Liverpool, but are originally from the Northern, Southern and Western parts of Norway. I am going through some of their other songs to get the measure of the band, and I confess that I am not a little bit smitten with their Standing Barefoot EP. They put me in mind a little of Iceland’s Pascal Pinon, an act I rate highly.
I also can’t help feeling they have a similar vibe and energy to another Liverpool-based band, Stealing Sheep. Yes, they are a touch more folky with their classical/Norwegian mash up, but they may want to check out the journey made by the amazing Stealing Sheep.
You will know we music writers may sometimes appear lazy with the comparisons we make to other acts; it’s a human thing that can help position an artist in a headspace that the listener feels comfortable and acquainted with, and it’s also sometimes a box the artist would prefer you didn’t place them in (I confess to not always liking it as an artist). At times it may be because a writer really would prefer to listen to the artist they are thinking of, and in my case I make the comparisons out of love and genuine interest. The key thing is I am now rushing off to listen (and buy or have bought) the music of the other artists I speak of, and then come back to the artists here to buy their music and share it amongst my networks, so that’s got to be a good thing, right?
For me it’s about adding new artists to my listening library to help me enjoy life a little bit more, and in appreciating the beautiful art they have made. Like my fellow team members on Fresh On The Net, I get genuinely excited to discover new music, and when it’s good it inspires me to create music and art of my own, ensuring that their art passes me a baton to go and make my own art, and/or pass on what they do to somebody else, and so it goes.
I’m listening and thinking to myself what do you call this sweet vocal-led pop music? The band call it Float Folk, with their untraditional harmonies that go close to a classical position, but just pull it back before it becomes too highbrow. I await joining them (metaphorically) on their musical journey and wish them Godspeed.
KOLOTO – Alatheia
Days come, days go but you can always be sure of a nice surprise when you come and check out what’s happening here @ Fresh On The Net, and here we have the rather special Koloto with the rather lovely Alatheia.
I’m getting an essence of Kyoto with a splash of epic Tokyo skyscrapers. This is music to be a karate world champion to, to be an award winning ceramics artist to, or just a normal person enjoying life to. Great sounds, great triggers, great build and shift, and great ability to chill a man called Johnno out.
And what’s really lovely to see is that this box of melodic and rhythmic finery is brought to you by a very talented lady called Maria Sullivan, and Maria grew up in Canterbury, which is not known as a hotbed for cutting edge electronica stars as far as I am aware. Maybe I just didn’t get the memo and it’s all kicking off in Canterbury.
Maria has been honing her skills as Koloto for 5 years now, and it’s clear for all to see it’s paying off as she is very deft at this electronica lark, bringing a fresh take to proceedings, and great visuals and graphics too.
Koloto has rightly attracted a lot of radio support from the likes of BBC Radio 1, ABC National and France Inter, and I am sure that is going to continue and widen with music as strong as this.
This song’s spirit animal is an eagle, soaring gracefully over all it surveys.
MISHAPED PEARLS – Jesus’ Crooked Shadow
What are they putting in the water where Mishaped Pearls live? This is delightful trip folk music for classical heads, it accompanies the sun very well and would lighten even the darkest heart.
I’m sure I’ve written about this London based seven-piece before, but can’t remember when. Their name is certainly familiar to me, and I am sure lots of people are writing about them and spreading the news far and wide.
Jesus’ Crooked Shadow is a wonderful builder, with a canny use of the space in between the notes. The guitar picks its way through the long grass, whilst that killer bass waits to jump out and say boo! as it teases you between the vocal and synth swoops and sways. Did I say I love that bass line? Well, just did.
The operatic female vocal calls from the deep, beckoning you over to be your friend and tap you on the shoulder.
Someone much cleverer than I will know what the song is about, I’m still stuck on the melodic interplay between the instruments and the vocals, and it was those that brought me here — well, apart from the fact that you voted for it lots.
Listening to some of their back catalogue it’s clear the band have shifted from the more traditional folk output to something which cross pollinates a number of genres, and forms a very interesting looking landscape.
Their new album Shivelight is self-released on the 25th May and I for one am intrigued to hear if they continue with the same stylings as on Jesus’ Crooked Shadow, which would be rather splendid.
This band tend to play live a fair bit, and word reaches me that they are well worth checking out, so do go and check them out.
I wonder what the song is about? I’m picking up stuff about lying in the graveyard, living in a seaside town, and a legacy of terror for the young and old. Hold that front page!!! I could be on the wrong scent, but I think I may have stumbled upon a weird cult – all graveyards, haunted mezzo-soprano warbling and neu religion (probably in sandals, cause sandals are always involved one way or the other).
I just looked at a photo of the band and they are definitely a cult, a very nice cult it has to be said, but a cult all the same. Bloody hell! I now realise that the playing of their songs is how they get new members!
They put you in a trance, forcing you to walk towards their late night initiation ceremony at the graveyard (probably in a white smock and bare feet – underwear optional), and when you arrive they give you really big scarfs to wear, and funny smelling soup, and chant unknown religious phrases at you in an operatic style as they (supposedly) start to cleanse your chakra.
Notice to party people and graveyard dwellers: watch out for this trip folk music, it will soon be inside you.
VALERAS – Louder
Valeras are a five-piece from Reading, namely Rose, Max, George, Cat and Katie. I did try to access their webpage but my browser warned me it wasn’t safe to do so I didn’t venture forth and instead visited the home of everybody’s data (and its harvesting?) – Facebook.
Valeras are young, popular, very talented and going places – damn! Reading that back I hate them already. Ha, I’m joking, I am all (ok, most) of those things anyway.
Louder is their latest single, produced by Larry Hibbitt, and it does what it says on the tin. It’s rock music for colourful people, and it’s nice that it’s fronted by a woman and backed by two others. Sorry men, you are important too, and play very well indeed.
Fuzzy, loud, gritty, punky, fully loaded and locked on to your rock psyche, it’s high energy punky rock with echoes of Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Ting Tings and a harder edged Avril Lavigne. I can see this track working in shows like Lillehammer or the latest edgy Netflix drama.
Rose grew up in Venezuela and brings a unique take to the Valeras sound. They have already played Reading festival, and continue to play live, and I bet they really fill and indeed rock a venue.
You dear readers of course rated them very highly, as Louder proved popular with you. I’m expecting to hear of good things from them, the answer may come very soon in a three minute burst of gloriousness that radio can’t say no to, or it will come by them continuing to make the right moves, continuing to write lots of songs, playing lots of gigs and never losing the passion. Good luck on the journey Valeras.
WOJTEK THE BEAR – Oil & Water
I like Wojtek The Bear, having had them grace these pages before, it’s good to see them back with their handsome indie pop.
I also like an accent in a song signalling where you came from, and this Glasgow four-piece do not disappoint with their catchy second single from their debut album A Talent For Being Unreasonable, which is due to be released on Scottish Fiction Records on 25th May.
There’s a lovely little video of the song where family, friends and supporters have a go at being in the band. SPOILER ALERT: the lady on the guitar steals the show.
I’m on my fourth listen and it’s not only a great song to go with the sunshine but the chorus will be in your head for the rest of the week.
This is delightful pop music to bring you out in general physical happiness and above average mental health, if it were a meal it would be lightly dusted sea bream with a beautiful and colourful fresh salad and tiny but delicious baby potatoes – with the meal eaten overlooking a glorious bay!
Wojtek The Bear seem to be really getting into their stride and coming up with some cracking songs, this one was the most popular song of the week with you by a clear way, damn you lot have good taste!
You can find the info on upcoming dates for their A Talent For Being Unreasonable tour on their Facebook page
I’m so pleased they uploaded this song to our dropbox and the team picked it for the Listening Post.
I like our team of moderators.
I also like Wojtek The Bear.
Thank you please.
PS from TR: If you’ve submitted a track that hasn’t been picked for the Listening Post, our team has definitely listened to it and there’s no need to send it again: feel free to send us an even stronger track another week. The same goes if you were picked for the Listening Post but didn’t feature in our Fresh Faves.
But if we’ve recently featured you in our Fresh Faves – or on my BBC Introducing Mixtape – please wait three months before sending us another track, so we have space to help other deserving artists… For more info see Robinson Has A Good Old Moan.